Len McCluskey suspends union action against Austerity and fighting for the Alternative to ‘get Labour elected’

Some of the biggest Trades Unions have suspended programmes of action since the ‘March for the Alternative’ and ‘Britain needing a pay rise’.

In particular the call by Len McCluskey for a General Strike. An opaque strategic vision or aim to say the least.

The point being that the leaders have given Ed Miliband the “breathing space” to get elected in May without criticism from the Conservatives.It represents suspension of class struggle as a means to fight the neo-liberal agenda, halting big strikes as extra parliamentary intervention, giving only the opportunity to voting at the ballot box.

Firefighters, teachers, Health Workers and Public Sector Workers are amongst the biggest sections involved.

Below is the released statements of UNITE and UNISON, the two biggest unions and their political response to the General Election. Their responses and influence cannot be disregarded in the coming General Election.

McCluskey has been criticised for his interventions in recent times, for marching the workers to the top of the hill only to march them down again regarding his militant calls and selection of certain candidates for the election, particularly at Grangemouth in Scotland and its effects on the Scottish referendum and labour representation. Unite the union provides hefty funding for the Labour Party.

Negotiations and settlements are the preferred method at the moment rather than confrontation. At the same time these compromises have only shelved the issues and many workers are breaking out of their containment, wishing to express the fact that their demands are political and should be part of the election.

Meanwhile Dave Prentis of UNISON is not specifically calling people to concentrate their voting on Labour, but getting out to vote.In particular asking black workers to help keep the Conservative Government out, at the same not advising any alternative candidates to vote for.

​The TUC are taking part in the National Voter Registration Drive for 2015 to help raise awareness of voter registration in workplaces and add 250,000 new names to the electoral register.

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Len McCluskey: Labour does not need backstabbing Blairite ‘grandees’

02 February 2015

With the days counting down to the most important general election in generations, the leader of the UK’s biggest union, Unite, has condemned those within the Labour party who are undermining Ed Miliband’s leadership.

Denouncing the politicians of Labour’s past as `Blairite grandees’, Len McCluskey urged Ed Miliband not to be deterred by these `blasts from the past’ and called upon the members and officers of Unite to get working for a Labour victory.

Addressing the union’s 1200 strong officer and organiser core in Birmingham today (Monday, 2 February), Len McCluskey warned that the Tories’ immense spending power, allied to their wealthy backers and a loyal media, means the country faces a one-sided campaign in May placing a `duty to democracy’ on the union to support Labour:

“The electorate is today poised between fear and hope. Fear is the basis of the UKIP menace – blame someone else for all the problems, usually immigrants or foreigners, and seek refuge in an imagined past.

“But it is hope that is blossoming today as we have seen in last week’s magnificent election result in Greece. Labour needs to bottle some of the Syriza spirit and take that anti-austerity agenda to the people here.

“What it doesn’t need is the Blairite grandees – the people who sucked the life out of the last Labour government – attacking every progressive impulse, like the mansion tax and saving our NHS.

“So I say to Peter Mandelson, Alan Milburn and John Hutton: stick to counting your thirty pieces of silver that you got from the bosses, who you’ve always represented, and stop stabbing Labour in the back.

“And I say to Ed Miliband – have the courage of your convictions and ignore these blasts from the past.”

Len McCluskey continued: “This is a fight for the future of our society, for the poor and vulnerable. A fight for everyone squeezed by the crisis and the cuts, and for everyone who believes that Britain has gone badly wrong, and who wants to live in a fairer country.

“The Tories are plotting a reduction in the scope and role of the state which even Thatcher could only have dreamed of, taking us back to the days of the 1930s, under the pretext of balancing the books without, of course, asking the rich or big business to contribute. They want to tear to bits every advance working people have secured, every protection we have built up, over the years.

“Let me say today – it’s not going to happen. If a government with the backing of less than one voter in four tries to deny the rights of a movement of millions, we will treat that with the contempt it deserves. And if we are pushed outside the law, so be it. If Unite is ever to die, it will not die on its knees.”

Labour support is our duty

On working for a Labour victory, McCluskey said: “I’ve asked our Executive to provide donations to Labour’s election fund totalling £2.5m so far. More will most likely be needed.

“I regard this as doing our duty to democracy.

“Let the Tories get their millions from hedge funds and from shadowy dinner clubs of big businessmen. Our money is clean, transparent to the public, democratically-sanctioned and honestly accounted for. It’s the pennies of our members each week, not the ill-gotten gains of the ruling elite.

“There can be no doubt that Labour’s commitments will make a huge difference – there’s no need to be mealy-mouthed or half-hearted about this – and will provide a platform for tackling the crippling inequalities in our society.”

But, he continued: “If we lose the election, we understand how much harder that life will be for the people we serve.

“That’s why I’m appealing to each and every one of you – step up to the plate. Get behind your union and its political strategy, and get behind a Labour victory in May. Answer the Party’s call. Do not stand aside from this battle, or let any doubts and reservations paralyse you.

“We are now facing the fight of our lives.”

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Make a difference on 7 May, says UNISON General Secretary

No-one can predict the way the coming election will go, and with the result too close to call, black voters are likely to have a decisive impact in May, UNISON general secretary, Dave Prentis will say later today (Friday).

Addressing the annual national black members’ conference Dave will say: “Since 2010 black public service workers have had to put up with a lot from this government.

“There’s been wage freezes and pay held down way below prices, harsh spending cuts and huge jobs losses, and the increasing involvement of private firms who care more about profit than good services – in the NHS, in education and in probation.

“Communities have been hit hard over the past five years – by the squeeze on living standards and the cutting back of vital benefits as the welfare state is slowly dismantled.

“Meanwhile many black youngsters – if they have been fortunate enough to find work – are trapped in low-wage jobs, unlikely ever be able to afford their own homes, and trapped in expensive rental accommodation.

“The government has done more damage to the NHS in the last five years than at any time in the health service’s 67 year history. Spending is less in real terms than it was in Thatcher’s day.

“The NHS is being slowly starved of cash, and as council adult social care budgets are slashed, the elderly and the vulnerable are calling on the health service more than ever.

“It’s no wonder many A&E departments have been teetering on the brink – kept afloat by dedicated staff who put in many extra hours of unpaid overtime, week in week out.

“Only today a damning report from influential think tank the King’s Fund accused the government of wasting billions on a series of damaging reforms that no-one asked for, but which have used up vital resources that could have gone on improving patient care.

“We warned the government that Andrew Lansley’s ill-thought Act was would damage and scar the health service but ministers went ahead regardless – despite opposition from every organisation that knew the NHS well. This government has failed the NHS and failed patients.

“But now is our chance to make amends. Recent research shows that black voters could just swing the result on 7 May away from the Tories and the further havoc they will wreak on public services, and on unions, should they make it back to Number Ten.

“With the parties neck and neck, and coalitions of many different compositions being imagined after election day, the outcome is likely to be decided by a handful of votes in a small number of key constituencies.

“According to Operation Black Vote in more than 160 constituencies black voters outnumber the majority of the sitting MP – that means there is a real opportunity for you to influence the result and deny David Cameron the opportunity to stay in Downing Street.

“The importance of a black political voice has never been greater – that’s why UNISON has signed up to the Mirror’s No Vote No Voice campaign to persuade all those who feel alienated from politics that they should register and have their say on that Thursday in May.

“Last time around almost one in five black adults were not registered to vote – that’s twice the rate for white adults. If you feel that no-one is listening, it’s easy to see why Westminster appears remote, and there is no desire to engage. But the stakes are high.

“The Tories have already threatened to slash spending all over again should they return to power – cuts that would virtually destroy the NHS and take spending on the welfare state back to 1930s levels.

“The government has already created a tough environment for unions, and if they come back in May, the climate will get even harsher.
“Cuts to the facility time that allow reps to help members, stopping the check off that allows union subs to come straight from salaries, raising the strike ballot threshold to impossibly high levels. We cannot allow that to happen.

“We cannot allow that to happen to our public services, to our young, our vulnerable and our future.

“So make sure that everyone you know is registered to vote so they can help kick out this immoral government in May. Together we can make a difference.”

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